1996 Daytona 500

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1996 Daytona 500
Race details[1]
Race 1 of 31 in the 1996 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season
Track map of Daytona International Speedway
Track map of Daytona International Speedway
Date February 18, 1996 (1996-02-18)
Location Daytona International Speedway
Daytona Beach, Florida, U.S.
Course Permanent racing facility
2.5 mi (4.02336 km)
Distance 200 laps, 500 mi (804.672 km)
Weather Temperatures reaching up to 63 °F (17 °C); wind speeds approaching 13 miles per hour (21 km/h)
Average speed 154.308 miles per hour (248.335 km/h)
Pole position
Driver Richard Childress Racing
Qualifying race winners
Duel 1 Winner Dale Earnhardt Richard Childress Racing
Duel 2 Winner Ernie Irvan Robert Yates Racing
Most laps led
Driver Terry Labonte Hendrick Motorsports
Laps 44
No. 88 Dale Jarrett Robert Yates Racing
Television in the United States
Network CBS
Announcers Ken Squier, Buddy Baker, and Ned Jarrett
Nielsen Ratings 9.2/24
(13.9 million viewers)

The 1996 Daytona 500, the 38th running of the event, was run on February 18, 1996, at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida, as the first race of the 1996 NASCAR Winston Cup season. Dale Jarrett won this race for the second time after winning it in 1993 and for the first (and only) time in all of Daytona 500 history, Dale Earnhardt won the pole position, allowing many to believe that he would finally win the race. Ernie Irvan returned to race full-time alongside Earnhardt (both drivers won their respective Gatorade Twin 125-mile qualifying races).


Aerial view of the Daytona International Speedway with Lake Lloyd toward the center.
Daytona International Speedway, where the race was held.

Daytona International Speedway is a race track in Daytona Beach, Florida, that is one of six superspeedways to hold NASCAR races, the others being Michigan International Speedway, Auto Club Speedway, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Pocono Raceway and Talladega Superspeedway.[2] The standard track at Daytona is a four-turn superspeedway that is 2.5 miles (4.0 km) long. The track also features two other layouts that utilize portions of the primary high speed tri-oval, such as a 3.56-mile (5.73 km) sports car course and a 2.95-mile (4.75 km) motorcycle course.[3] The track's 180-acre (73 ha) infield includes the 29-acre (12 ha) Lake Lloyd, which has hosted powerboat racing. The speedway is owned and operated by International Speedway Corporation.

The track was built by NASCAR founder Bill France, Sr. to host racing that was being held at the former Daytona Beach Road Course and opened with the first Daytona 500 in 1959.[4] The Daytona 500 is regarded as the most important and prestigious race on the NASCAR calendar.[5] It is also the series' first race of the year; this phenomenon is virtually unique in sports, which tend to have championships or other major events at the end of the season rather than the start.

Race summary[edit]

Opening laps[edit]

The lead changed four times between Ernie Irvan, Ken Schrader, Sterling Marlin, and Dale Earnhardt in the first five laps. Reigning Winston Cup champion Jeff Gordon was eliminated on lap 8 after getting a light tap from Jeremy Mayfield. Busch Series Goody's 300 winner Steve Grissom, along with Rick Mast, Joe Nemechek (both Busch Series champions) and Rusty Wallace, were involved in a chain reaction incident after Gordon hit the wall. Mast's and Wallace's cars both were relatively undamaged, but Grissom and Nemechek lost several laps after repairs. On lap 29, Earnhardt's ignition failed, triggering a wreck for Ernie Irvan. Wally Dallenbach, Jr., who could not see Earnhardt, tagged Irvan and sent him into the wall.

Due to a new rules package, the lead changed hands early and often. On lap 50, no one but Dale Earnhardt or Terry Labonte (the new leader), had spent more than 4 consecutive laps in the lead. Lap 54 saw 1990 race winner Derrike Cope hit the turn 4 wall, which ended his day.

Mid-race developments[edit]

On lap 77, 1994 and 1995 winner Sterling Marlin took the lead away from Terry Labonte and led three laps before having engine problems. Not much later, Labonte began to drop back with overheating issues after leading the most laps at 44. He managed a decent finish, but Marlin almost instantly retired from the lead. IndyCar veteran John Andretti, whose uncle Mario won the 1967 race, became the new leader. He and Earnhardt, along with Bill Elliott, Dale Jarrett (the eventual race winner), Ken Schrader and Michael Waltrip, were all prime contenders at halfway. On lap 131, after 72 laps of green flag racing, Andretti had a hard crash in turn 2. Waltrip clipped him as he tried to go past his spinning car, only to damage the right-front fender. The damage seemed to improve the car's aerodynamic qualities. Shortly after the restart, Mike Wallace suddenly snapped loose and collected Loy Allen, Jr., Brett Bodine and Bobby Labonte, whose car was relatively undamaged. Only Wallace; Allen, Jr.; and Bodine were all done for the day.

Run to the finish[edit]

Geoff Bodine and Lake Speed crashed at lap 159, collecting Bobby Hamilton, Chad Little, Robert Pressley, Jeff Purvis and Morgan Shepherd. This prompted the final pit stops. Dale Jarrett and his crew chief Todd Parrott decided on a four-tire change, while the RCR duo Earnhardt and Petree opted for two. Bud Moore, whose car and driver Wally Dallenbach, Jr. were not yet sponsored for the season, were going to gamble that their full tank of fuel from the previous caution would be enough to finish. Even so, Dallenbach kept the #15 in the lead pack in the waning laps. Earnhardt quickly dispatched new leader and last year's Rookie of the Year Ricky Craven. He lost the lead briefly to Schrader but at lap 177, Jarrett passed him with four fresh tires. Earnhardt could keep up with Jarrett, but he could not repass him. This would allow Jarrett to win his second Daytona 500 win, followed by Earnhardt, Schrader, Mark Martin and Jeff Burton.


Pos Grid Car Driver Team Make Staus Led Laps
1 7 88 Dale Jarrett (W) Robert Yates Racing Ford 200 40 Running
2 1 3 Dale Earnhardt Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 200 32 Running
3 4 25 Ken Schrader Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 200 12 Running
4 15 6 Mark Martin Roush Racing Ford 200 0 Running
5 16 99 Jeff Burton Roush Racing Ford 200 0 Running
6 9 15 Wally Dallenbach, Jr. Bud Moore Engineering Ford 200 0 running
7 20 16 Ted Musgrave Roush Racing Ford 200 0 Running
8 21 94 Bill Elliott (W) Bill Elliott Racing Ford 200 29 Running
9 10 10 Ricky Rudd Rudd Performance Motorsports Ford 200 0 Running
10 11 21 Michael Waltrip Wood Brothers Racing Ford 200 1 Running
11 19 23 Jimmy Spencer Travis Carter Enterprises Ford 200 1 Running
12 34 44 Jeff Purvis Phoenix Racing Chevrolet 200 0 Running
13 36 41 Ricky Craven Larry Hedrick Motorsports Chevrolet 200 0 Running
14 32 9 Lake Speed Melling Racing Ford 200 0 Running
15 23 71 Dave Marcis Marcis Auto Racing Chevrolet 200 0 Running
16 43 2 Rusty Wallace Penske Racing South Ford 200 0 Running
17 35 18 Bobby Labonte Joe Gibbs Racing Chevrolet 200 0 Running
18 29 42 Kyle Petty SABCO Racing Pontiac 199 0 Flagged
20 39 43 Bobby Hamilton Petty Enterprises Pontiac 199 0 Flagged
21 33 81 Kenny Wallace FILMAR Racing Ford 199 0 Flagged
22 42 8 Hut Stricklin Stavola Brothers Racing Ford 199 0 Flagged
23 27 30 Johnny Benson, Jr. (R) Bahari Racing Pontiac 197 0 Flagged
24 5 5 Terry Labonte Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 196 44 Flagged
25 18 27 Elton Sawyer (R) David Blair Motorsports Ford 196 0 Flagged
26 13 22 Ward Burton Bill Davis Racing Pontiac 195 0 Flagged
27 26 29 Steve Grissom Diamond Ridge Motorsports Chevrolet 191 0 Flagged
28 31 1 Rick Mast Precision Products Racing Pontiac 190 0 Flagged
29 40 17 Darrell Waltrip (W) Darrell Waltrip Motorsports Chevrolet 180 0 Handling
30 25 33 Robert Pressley Leo Jackson Motorsports Chevrolet 171 0 Contact TO
31 12 75 Morgan Shepherd Butch Mock Motorsports Ford 164 0 Contact TO
32 41 11 Brett Bodine Brett Bodine Racing Ford 162 1 Contact BS
33 30 97 Chad Little Mark Rypien Motorsports Pontiac 158 0 Contact
34 38 7 Geoff Bodine (W) Geoff Bodine Racing Ford 157 0 Contact
35 2 28 Ernie Irvan (W) Robert Yates Racing Ford 145 2 Flagged
36 24 19 Loy Allen, Jr. TriStar Motorsports Ford 135 0 Contact BS
37 17 90 Mike Wallace Donlavey Racing Ford 135 0 Contact BS
38 6 37 John Andretti MK Racing Ford 128 23 Contact BS
39 37 87 Joe Nemechek NEMCO Motorsports Chevrolet 86 0 Contact TO
40 3 4 Sterling Marlin (W) Morgan-McClure Motorsports Chevrolet 81 3 Engine
41 22 12 Derrike Cope (W) Bobby Allison Motorsports Ford 53 0 Contact TO
42 8 24 Jeff Gordon Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 13 0 Contact TO
43 28 63 Dick Trickle Schnell Motorsports Ford 9 0 Engine
Failed to qualify
65 Steve Seligman (R) O'Neil Racing Ford
95 Chuck Bown Sadler Brothers Racing Ford
77 Bobby Hillin, Jr. Jasper Motorsports Ford
73 Tracy Leslie (R) Barkdoll Racing Chevrolet
0 Delma Cowart H.L. Waters Racing Ford
57 Jim Bown (R) Kenova Motorsports Chevrolet
80 Joe Ruttman Hover Motorsports Ford
72 Jim Sauter Marcis Auto Racing Chevrolet



  1. ^ "Weather of the 1996 Daytona 500". The Old Farmers' Almanac. Retrieved 2014-03-17.
  2. ^ "Race Tracks". NASCAR. Turner Sports. Archived from the original on June 28, 2011. Retrieved December 30, 2015.
  3. ^ "Track facts". DaytonaInternationalSpeedway.com. Daytona International Speedway. Retrieved December 30, 2015.
  4. ^ "The History of ISC". InternationalSpeedwayCorporation.com. International Speedway Corporation. June 14, 2015. Archived from the original on December 1, 2017. Retrieved December 30, 2015.
  5. ^ What Makes Daytona Special. Daytona International Speedway. May 10, 2012. 2:51 minutes in. YouTube.
  6. ^ "1996 Daytona 500 - Racing-Reference.info". Archived from the original on 2012-02-19. Retrieved 2012-02-17.
  7. ^ "1996 Daytona 500 - Racing-Reference.info". Archived from the original on 2012-02-19. Retrieved 2012-02-17.
Preceded by
1995 NAPA 500
NASCAR Winston Cup Series season
Succeeded by
1996 Goodwrench Service 400